Sunday, April 11, 2004

Do Your Own Homework

George W. Bush likes his job. He likes the cool stuff that comes with it, too; the big 747 with all the neat things like missile defense, the armored cars, the phones you don’t have to dial (“Get me Rummy on the line”), the big muscular guys packin’ heat that surround him all the time, and all those adoring people that show up at parties and give him money. And he’s learned the lines, too, about protecting and defending, and I think at some level he really believes that he cares about the charge that he’s been given – just as long as the boring stuff like economic forecasts and troop depletion reports and all those charts and graphs don’t get in the way. He likes all the fun stuff, but hates the nerdy details, even though they have to be done. His solution? Well, just like in prep school or college, he’ll find some geek to do the work for him and turn it in as his own. This job is a frat boy’s dream come true.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bush – and the rest of us – the reality of the job hasn’t sunk in. The stories in the papers today about the details of the August 6, 2001 PDB give the impression that while the threat by Al-Qaeda was not specific to saying that they were going to hijack four airliners and fly them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol on a specific date, there was enough information to raise the alert levels at airports just as they had done back during Gulf War I or in December 1999. But apparently this did not set off any alarm bells with Mr. Bush, and since he didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, none of his posse did either; besides, those guys at the FBI and CIA are all a bunch of cliquey dweebs – who cares if they don’t play well together? Who’s up for another round of brush-clearing?

Even after the attacks and after doing the least that is required of the President of the United States, he got bored with all the details and let the geeks do the work. He was having more fun taking care of his buds. Sure, he can talk the talk, but leave the grunt work to underlings. He doesn’t want to know what’s going on. He doesn’t really give a shit.

As we have learned, this is who the man is. He has never shown more than a passing interest in doing anything that requires sacrifice of self or fortune; there have always been people who have bailed him out, literally and figuratively, and paid the fines for him. We should have known. But once again America has proven herself to be too easily enamored of the surface elements of our presidential candidates – vis the success of Average Joe – Hunks vs. Nerds. What we need is to elect someone who will do the job and the homework that comes with it.